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ever, I believe, only destructive to hares; they are ugly beasts of a dirty striped grey, with a short tail, looking as if it had been docked.

There are no deer in most parts of Russia, but elks

may be met with in the winter within fifty miles of Petersburg: it, however, requires the assistance of one or two hundred peasants, as well as considerable skill and management to get the elks within shot. These noble animals stand about twenty hands high, but there is little except the pleasure of the pursuit to reward the sportsman, for the skin is coarse, and the flesh by no means a delicacy.

171

LETTER XII.

A peasant's wedding-Lawful periods for marriage-Etiquette for

marriages - Mariages de convenance -- Parental authority-Anecdote of a Moscow merchant and his son-in-law.

Rascazava, Nov. 25th, 1837. We had a wedding here a few days ago, and we went into the gallery of the church to witness the ceremony, which began at half-past seven in the evening, and lasted nearly three-quarters of an hour. The bridegroom was a peasant of rather a superior class, and in good circumstances, but still a serf; and the bride was the daughter of a Tamboff tradesman. In a case like this the wife becomes a slave, but she regains her liberty at her husband's death if she survives him. The church was of course lighted up, and a small altar was placed in the middle; in front of the altar a carpet is always stretched, on which the couple stand, each holding a lighted taper during the ceremony: they walk up to it side by side, and it is supposed that whichever first sets foot on it, will hereafter have the upper hand in the household. Towards the latter part of the ceremony, after a

number of prayers and hymns, two crowns of gilt metal were brought to the priest, and he placed them, after making the sign of the cross and pronouncing a short blessing, on the heads of the pair whom he was marrying; he then joined their hands and led them three times round the altar. A cup filled with wine and water was then brought, of which the bride and bridegroom tasted each three times. After this a homily was read on the mutual duties of husband and wife, but this was no necessary part of the ceremony. At the conclusion, the priest desired the newly married couple to kiss one another, and when they had done so, their friends all crowded round them with kisses and congratulations. The crowns, which had been taken off their heads, were now put on again, and they walked out of church preceded by the priest and deacon bearing the cross, and by. a boy carrying a consecrated image to be placed in their bed-room. The bride, who was rather a pretty girl and only seventeen, looked sadly worn out, which was not surprising, as she had come from Tamboff that morning, a journey of six or seven hours over a bad road; and had, according to the custom of her class on the occasion of their marriage, tasted no food all day.

The priest was to join the bridal supper, and I was told that there would be further

prayers

and ceremonies in the house, and that the happy couple would sit all the evening with the crowns on their

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heads. The poorer peasants do not take the crowns out of the church, as they have to pay an extra fee to the priest for the permission. At weddings in a higher sphere, the crowns are never actually worn, but are held over the heads of the bride and bridegroom during the ceremony by their friends. No marriage can take place in the Greek church, during any of the fasts, nor at other times on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. The lawful periods are therefore limited to four days in the week, during less than half the year. Among the upper classes the ceremony generally takes places at night, and the married couple, instead of setting off immediately together into retirement for a while, according to the sensible English fashion, are expected to remain for some time with the parents of the lady. Both are required by rigorous etiquette to write beforehand to announce their approaching union to every relation they possess, and to take the earliest opportunity after their marriage of paying them a visit uninvited. This last is, indeed, an attention which is expected not only by relations, but also by friends, and often even by mere acquaintances. A lady at Moscow told me that she was taken in this manner, as a bride, into about seventy houses, the greater part of which she had never entered since. All general rules have exceptions, but it appears to me, from all that I have heard and can ascertain, that a very great proportion of Russian marriages are mere matters of business and

calculation, in which family interests are alone considered, and the feelings and inclinations of the parties most concerned are utterly disregarded. A union between two persons is arranged by their respective parents, and they are expected submissively to acquiesce. In the upper classes this is one necessary and natural consequence of the restraint which is placed upon the social intercourse of the two sexes, so that the young men and young ladies have rarely the opportunity of becoming well acquainted with one another. Another important reason for the frequency of mariages de convenance, and one which pervades all classes, may be found in the exaggerated notions of parental authority which prevail in this country, where a person at the age of thirty is often considered as incapable of judging and acting for himself as he was at the age

of ten. The results of this system are of course anything but favourable to the natural attachment of children to their fathers and mothers, since sincere affection, and a voluntary desire to please, soon vanish where unreasonable sacrifices are exacted.

Parental tyranny is carried to its highest pitch among the tradesmen and the peasants, and therefore interested marriages, where the affections are no way concerned, or rather where they are often outraged, are as common among these classes as among the higher orders. Peasants, however, cannot marry without the consent of their master, and he, there

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